November 2009 Travel Zambia 23 Livingstone The following is by no means an exhaustive list of the many adventure sports operators in the Livingstone area. However, all those mentioned here have a good reputation and impeccable safety record, use top- quality equipment and offer excellent customer service. Abseil Zambia: A dedicated site 3km from Livingstone offers many activities for the adrenalin junkie, including abseiling, rap jumping, a gorge swing, the fl ying fox and a cable slide. Details at www. thezambeziswing. com Batoka Sky: Specialises in microlight and helicopter fl ights over the Victoria Falls and Mosi- oa- Tunya National Park. Details at www. livingstonesadventure. com Bundu Adventures: An owner- run company offering diverse activities, including rafting ( with multi- day trips), river boarding, canoeing, kayaking, river surfi ng and spray view tours into the Boiling Pot. Details at www. bunduadventures. com Jet Extreme: Easily accessed via a private cable car into the gorge, offering jet boat rides around Rapid 25. Details at www. livingstonesadventure. com Livingstone Island tours: Tongabezi has exclusive rights to Livingstone Island: they offer fi ve daily tours, which include the option of swimming in Devil's Pool on the lip of the falls. Details at www. tongabezi. com/ livingstone_ island. php Safari Par Excellence: Arguably Livingstone's most professional adventure sports operator. Activities focus on popular half- and full- day rafting trips, but also include river boarding and upper Zambezi canoe trips. Details at www. safpar. net Water by Nature: A UK- based operation specialising in the niche market of 5- Star multi- day expedition rafting trips. Details at www. waterbynature. com Zambezi Adrenalin Company: Bungee jumping, gorge swinging and cable sliding from the historic bridge linking Zambia to Zimbabwe. Details at www. safpar. com/ bunjee_ jumping. htm Zambezi. com: Specialist Zambezi kayaking operation that includes a kayak school, kayak guiding and multi- day kayak trips for experienced kayakers. Details at www. thezambezi. com THE OPERATORS Swimming with the devil ( Devil's Pool) On the edge of the main falls, barely two metres from the cascading precipice, the Zambezi has scoured out a small natural rock pool. During the low- water months, this provides a handful of fearless souls with an opportunity to swim in what is surely the world's most dramatically located plunge pool. The views are unparalleled, though the most spectacular - straight over the drop - may be too much for some to stomach. Exuberant visitors can even enter with a jump, dive or back fl ip - just so long as they don't overshoot. Postscript Livingstone's array of adventure sports thrilled and terrifi ed me in every conceivable way during my action- packed week. There was plenty of fun and excitement, with regular shots of adrenalin and a healthy dose of unadulterated fear thrown in for good measure. My personal favourite was the full- day riverboarding- plus- rafting combo. But visitors in a hurry, and with no budgetary constraints, can take this a level higher: Safpar's marketing manager Sarah Mackenzie has a recommendation for the thrill-seeker's ultimate day out. " Start off with the full day combo of rafting and river boarding," she advises, " followed by a jet boat ride around Rapid 25, then a helicopter fl ight back up the seven gorges to Livingstone town." Now that sounds like a day to remember. You up for it? Emerging into more placid waters after the ' seething cauldron' On the boil ( the Boiling Pot) The Tonga people refer to the falls as Shongwe, which translates as ' seething cauldron'. Saturday saw me headed into the midst of this cauldron, also known as ' the Boiling Pot', in an infl atable two- man croc canoe. I was on the inaugural Spray View tour, on which participants can paddle around the Boiling Pot, then climb ashore and hike right to the base of the waterfall. This activity is the brainchild of Bundu Adventure's owner Nico Chassing, who envisages it as an affordable activity allowing people to experience the power of being surrounded by towering cliffs while facing a giant curtain of water. Sitting in our tiny raft surrounded by vertical cliffs and cascading water made me feel very insignifi cant. We shouted to be heard above the roar of the seething cauldron and, paddling against the powerful currents, I could sense the raw power of nature all around. Jet setter ( Jet boating) Operating in the lower gorges of the Zambezi River, jet boating provides an exhilarating ride. For 30 minutes the custom- built boat uses 700 HP of raw power to buzz rocks, execute jet spins and crash through thundering rapids at death- defying speed. Less effort than the kayaking or rafting, perhaps, but a serious thrill for the passenger. STEPHEN CUNLIFFE ( x2) The perfect plunge pool; just don't plunge backwards Stephen Cunliffe would like to extend special thanks to Sarah Mckenzie of Safpar and Nico Chassing of Bundu Adventures.
Zambia undiscovered 24 Travel Zambia November 2009 I n 1955, after a decade of indecision, Zambia's former colonial government pushed through its controversial plan to build a hydroelectric dam at Kariba. Work soon began on this mammoth project. For more than three years the formerly tranquil gorge reverberated with the roar of compressors and the rumble of mixers and crushers. Concrete was churned around the clock and moulded into a giant arching wall, while the steel jaws of mechanised monsters devoured the virgin bush. Muffl ed explosions echoed across the gorge, choking the sky with smoke, dust and debris. On 22 June 1959 calm returned. A wall of concrete at the neck of Kariba gorge blocked the Zambezi's path. The mountainous basin behind it now enclosed an entirely new landscape: a vast man- made lake, fringed by teak forests and game reserves, covered more than 5400km2 of the valley fl oor. Today it offers the visitor an eerily seductive shoreline of craggy African fjords and placid backwaters, where drowned With a surface area of more than 5400km2, Kariba is one of the world's largest manmade reservoirs It was exactly 50 years ago that the hand of man fi rst tamed the mighty Zambezi River. The building of the huge Kariba Dam in 1959 remains one of Africa's greatest engineering projects, bringing electricity to two nations and transforming the valley with a vast lake. But the project was not without its controversies. Philip Dickson visited Zambia's largest body of water to fi nd out more. Photography by David Godny FLOOD Holding back the